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Court grants TRO preventing state from appointing board of managers, new superintendent for BISD
AUSTIN/BEAUMONT - A state district judge in Austin has granted a Temporary Restraining Order to BISD, preventing Education Commissioner Michael Williams from installing a board of managers to replace the school board and a superintendent to replace Dr. Timothy Chargois. The Texas Education Agency is calling the legal decision a delay but it fully expects to install a board of manager and new superintendent in BISD.
Watch KFDM News and stay with kfdm.com for updates.
Judge Lora Livingston issued her ruling Friday. Attorney Chris Tritico of Houston represented Gwen Ambres and Janice Brassard, on behalf of the board, in the TRO request.
The TRO remains in place for 14 days. There can be one 14 day extension. A hearing on a Temporary Injunction would take place in 28 days.
"It's a victory for BISD and the voters that the court recognized that the commissioner was violating the law," Tritico told our Justin Hinton.
The district also released a statement:
Earlier today a district court in Austin issued a temporary restraining order against Commissioner of Education Michael Williams preventing him from replacing the District's elected trustees with a managing board and attempting to replace the District's superintendent.
In April of this year, Commissioner Williams notified the District of his intention to replace the District's elected board of trustees with a board of managers selected by him and that he intended to replace the District's superintendent, Dr. Timothy B. Chargois. The District filed suit against Commissioner Williams challenging his actions and requested that the court issue a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction. Today the court granted the temporary restraining order after hearing arguments from lawyers for both Commissioner Williams and the District.
"We are grateful that the court took the time to listen to our concerns and believe that its decision is a victory for the District and the voters in our community. We were able to show that the Commissioner, in his rushed attempt to oust duly elected officials, failed to comply with state law and his own procedures. The Commissioner's actions to date have been tremendously unfair. It appears to us that he has misused the powers of his office to wrestle away control of the District from its elected board for the benefit of a political minority that has been unsuccessful in gaining control of the District through normal democratic processes," said BISD Board President Gwen Ambres.
The temporary restraining order prohibiting Commissioner Williams from imposing a board of managers and a new superintendent lasts for two weeks, after which time the court will decide whether to further enjoin Commissioner Williams at a future hearing.
KFDM News spoke with Janice Brassard, the school board vice-president, about the ruling.
"I'm pleased," said Brassard. "It gives us time to explain to the judge and whoever else, that the board and Dr. Chargois are trying very hard to get matters taken care of and complete all of the LBB recommendations. This will allow us to continue that work until such time as the legal proceedings run their course. The people can elect a new board next year, unless those legal proceedings continue. I'd welcome the chance to stay on, to finish the work that needs to be done, now that the board has begun to work together and communicate and actively address problems with Dr. Chargois. He's very forthcoming about plans and that sort of thing. It would give us opportunities to show people we can work together and get things turned around."
Education Commissioner Michael Williams released the following statement today about the issuance of a temporary restraining order in a case involving the Beaumont Independent School District.
"Today's decision granting a temporary restraining order isn't a surprise, but it does add a legal step to the process. The next step will be a temporary injunction hearing. When all is said and done, I fully expect to replace the superintendent and the board of trustees. This action is necessary to restore Beaumont ISD to the strong state that students and taxpayers fully deserve and have every right to expect."
The Texas Education Agency still has a Record Review planned for next Wednesday to hear BISD's argument against lowering its Accreditation to Accredited-Probation, according to a KFDM conversation with DeEtta Culbertson of the TEA.
(Wednesday report) AUSTIN - by Scott Lawrence
A spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency tells KFDM News State District Judge Lora Livingston in Austin has denied BISD's request for a Temporary Restraining Order to block the lowering of the district's accreditation, an action ordered by Education Commissioner Michael Williams as part of the state takeover of the district.
The judge has given BISD until Thursday to produce additional documents for the record review of his takeover decision. The TEA is scheduled to hold a hearing, known as a record review, next Wednesday in Austin, on the district's request for a review of Williams' decision.
She's expected to rule by Friday on a BISD request for a Temporary Restraining Order to block a board of managers from replacing the board of trustees. She's asked for letter briefs by Thursday. Williams says he'll install a board of managers and a new superintendent by June 15.
Today, Chris Tritico, the Houston attorney who filed the motion on behalf of Gwen Ambres and Janice Brassard, told KFDM's Justin Hinton he doesn't believe Williams has the legal authority to order a board of managers installed in the district.
(Earlier report) AUSTIN - by Scott Lawrence
KFDM News has learned the attorney representing the Beaumont ISD is seeking a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the state from taking over the district.
Watch Live at 5 and KFDM News at 6 for an update.
A spokesman for the Texas Education Agency tells KFDM News a state district judge in Austin will hold a hearing at 4 p.m. Wednesday to consider the TRO.
Attorney Chris Tritico filed the motion for a Declaratory Judgment, Temporary Restraining Order, Temporary Injunction and Permanent Injunction on behalf of Gwen Ambres, BISD board president, and Janice Brassard, a BISD board member.
Education Commissioner Michael Williams has ordered a board of managers to replace the board of trustees, and a superintendent to replace Dr. Timothy Chargois, by June 15. He cited a TEA investigation that found serious problems with financial management in BISD and a loss of public trust.
Tritico filed a response, saying Williams has no authority to order a takeover and denying all of the elements of the TEA's findings.